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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Cranberry Cheesecake Dessert Squares


Cranberry Cheesecake Dessert Squares feature a shortbread base, a cheesecake middle spread with your favourite cranberry sauce and topped with a pecan streusel.  Baked cheesecake usually contains eggs but this recipe does not.  The cheese mixture is thickened using sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice. 

Cranberry sauce and fresh cranberries often go on sale at good prices during the autumn and winter months.  With Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations requiring them as a side-dish at the main meal of the day there is often lots of the sauce on our cupboard shelves or berries in the freezer. I was lucky enough to come across an unbelievably great sale on fresh cranberries at one of the local supermarkets at 97¢ per bag.  I grabbed six bags and cooked up one bag into sauce right away.  I froze the remaining five bags for future cooking escapades.  Come Christmas, I'll probably also make a Frozen Cranberry Salad with some of those berries.

With all that cranberry sauce and berries around there's bound to be left-overs or sometime we just buy too much and have a few cans hanging about the pantry waiting for the next celebration.  If you find yourself in this situation don't leave those cans to languish in the pantry or that sauce to turn green in the fridge. Make these delicious dessert squares. 

I've had this recipe for some time but never made it until now.  I don't know where it came from but it was well worth the effort to put this little gem of a dessert together. It actually isn't much effort at all as I made two dishes of the delicious squares last week.  I made one 9x13-inch dishful and took it to a church potluck.  I thought I'd get a piece to take back home to Don, who was unable to attend, and by the time I got around to the dessert table the dish had been scraped clean!  During the week I made another dish of the squares but in the smaller 8x10-inch dish, which gives a thicker square.  I'm almost ashamed to say we (the two of us) managed to scrape that dish clean as well in only three days.  (I'll never fit into that little red dress!)  And I'm making another dish of the squares for this coming weekend to take to a Christmas program. 

Don't forget to take a look at the variations at the end of the recipe.  You can make cherry, blueberry or apple Cheesecake Dessert Squares, or really any fruit filling you like.  You can also make a thicker bar, similar to a cheesecake. 


Cranberry Cheesecake Dessert Squares
¾ cup butter, softened
⅓ cup icing sugar
1½ cups flour
1 package (8 oz/250 g) cream cheese, softened
1 can (300 ml/1¼ cups) sweetened condensed milk
¼ cup lemon juice
1 can (14 oz - 348 ml) whole cranberry sauce (about 1⅔ cups homemade sauce)
½ cup flour
¼ cup cold butter
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
¾ cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together soft butter and icing sugar until fluffy. Gradually stir in 1½ cups flour. Press onto bottom of 9x13-inch baking pan. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned. In mixer bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in condensed milk. Stir in lemon juice. Pour over prepared crust.

Spoon the cranberry sauce evenly over the cheese layer. Combine brown sugar and the ½ cup flour. Cut in cold butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in nuts. Sprinkle evenly over cranberry mixture. Bake 25-30 minutes. Cool and refrigerate until serving time. Cut into bars or squares.

Makes 15-20 servings.  Squares can also be cut smaller, if desired.


Variations

Cherry Cheesecake Dessert Squares: Use 1 can of cherry pie filling, or equivalent in homemade, and substitute white sugar for the brown and almonds for the pecans or walnuts.

Blueberry Cheesecake Dessert Squares: Use 1 can of blueberry pie filling, or equivalent in homemade.

Apple Cheesecake Dessert Squares: Use 1 can of apple pie filling, or equivalent in homemade.  Add ½ teaspoon cinnamon to the crumble topping.

To make a thicker square use an 8x10-inch pan and make a crust of:
1 cup flour
½ cup butter
¼ cup icing sugar

Mix as above and continue with recipe as written but bake 30-35 minutes.  



To make the crust, cream the butter and sugar together and add the flour.


Press the shortbread base into the baking dish and bake 15 minutes in preheated 350 degree oven  until golden.  


While shortbread base is baking beat the cheesecake until fluffy, add the sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice.  Stir until thick and creamy.


 Spread the cream cheese mixture over the baked shortbread.  


When the cream cheese mixture has been spread evenly, spread on the cranberry sauce.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the cranberry sauce!


Cut the ¼ cup cold butter into the ½ cup flour and the 3 tablespoons of brown sugar until you have a crumbly mixing.  Stir in the pecans.  This makes the struesel topping.


Sprinkle the struesel topping over the cranberry layer.


You can see the layers through the glass dish.


Bake about 25 minutes or until top is golden.


As you can see, this dish of Cranberry Cheesecake Dessert Squares is well on its way to being scraped clean.  Yum!

Layers of shortbread, cheesecake, cranberries and struesel make for a delectable celebration dessert.


Ready for a holiday celebration.

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